Wednesday, May 06, 2009


AMERICAN IDOL is the one competition where the closer you get to the end the less suspenseful it is. When there’s twelve it’s fun. You still have the psychos, the fake Rolex Arethas, tattooed beauty queens, nerds from other lands, sad sacks, and teenage Joe Cockers vying for your affection.

But once you get to the final four, they’re all excellent singers, they’re all going to get recording contracts and careers and the worst that can happen is one’ll end up on the CELEBRITY FIT CLUB.

So with no real drama and no one to make ass-fun of, it makes it hard for snarky bloggers to find something to write about. Fortunately, the caring producers have come to our rescue with a goofy format change worthy of our scorn and lampooning.

Instead of each contestant singing two numbers they had them sing one and then pair off and do duets. Huh? Was this a pilot for a spinoff? Who will be the next AMERICAN PEACHES & HERB? So instead of hearing eight songs we only got six and yet the hour was still filled with so much useless balloon juice (do we really care that Allison went to Adam’s hair stylist?) that it went past its hour deadline anyway.

And the height of absurdity was that the judges actually critiqued the duets. They had no bearing on the competition. Why not just critique the Ford videos too?

Apparently there had been real excitement earlier in the day when one of the giant Idol orbs that flank the set became unhinged and almost crashed to the stage. Hey, where was Kara to review the clean-up effort? “I wanted to see more artistry in that sweeping.” Kara, by the way, with her hair severely piled on her head looked like Misty of Chincoteague.

Anyway, on with what little show there was.

Having survived Rat Pack week (I’m still sorry Adam didn’t sing a Joey Bishop hit), the theme last night was “Rock n’ Roll”. The minute Ryan flitted down the stairs in a tailored grey suit you knew we were in for some righteous HEAD BANGING TONIGHT!! The guest mentor was Slash. No, he didn’t provide any real vocal coaching but who knew? He was lucid!

Adam Lambert kicked off the night with “Whole Lotta Love”. He killed. As always. I appreciate that he stuck to the original Led Zepplin version and for the sake of originality didn’t turn it into a Hawaiian song. Although, he’s so good I'm sure he could’ve pulled it off.

Allison Iraheta was Janis-lite screaming “Cry Baby”. If she really wanted to blow away the audience she might’ve tried Janis Joplin's “Woman Left Lonely”. Just my opinion but it could have been one of those truly thrilling Idol moments. Instead it was a first act number in the Vegas “Rock n’ Roll Heaven” revue.

Kris Allen sang the Beatles’ “Come Together”. I rather enjoyed watching this sweet kid with the angelic face singing lyrics like “He got joo-joo eyeballs”, “He got toe jam football”, “He got walrus gumboot”, “He one spinal cracker”, and the hauntingly beautiful: “Hold you in his armchair/You can feel his disease”.

Danny Gokey did Aerosmith’s rock chestnut “Dream On”, hitting the famous last note and sounding like a cat who got its tail stuck in a mop squeezer.

The duets don’t count so why bother? Adam is going to win so why bother?

But what I want to see are performances. Not profiles. Not chit-chats with Ryan. Not parades in Hootervile or Pixley or wherever the contestants are from. I want to see them sing. I want to hear them be great. The set started collapsing last night under its own weight. Let that be a metaphor.


Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

OK, here it is 4:00 a.m. and I just finished my on-air audition for KOLA in Riverside, CA. I'm bleary, beat and tired, but once I read your words, "...a mop squeezer," I laughed so hard, I scared the dog who banged his head (again) on the bottom of my computer table. The dog is getting sick of this. Don't be so funny.

D. McEwan said...

Poor Danny Gokey. He made me laugh. He was trying SO HARD to be Adam, and his church-choir-director version of a bad-ass rocker only proved conclusively that he isn't remotely Adam.

First duet was terrible, but Adam's and Alyson's was pretty good. Both were pointless.

Anonymous said...

wv: proust

Which is a coincidence considering I am halfway through Remembrance Of Things Past.

Susan said...

I LOVE "Misty of Chincoteague"!!

Mary Stella said...

Kara, by the way, with her hair severely piled on her head looked like Misty of Chincoteague.So was her black leather outfit meant to be saddle-esque?

Danny Gokey singing Aerosmith was like John Denver singing Metallica.

I have a theory that Simon's comments sway voters. If he pronounces someone in trouble, it spurs fans to vote more. If someone is in the murky middle and he proclaims them safe, fans think they don't need the votes.

I had a horrible time deciding who's going home tonight. My standings in the AI betting pool depend on correct predictions. Nobody loved Allison's song choice but Simon said he thought the duet with Adam might have saved her. So, fans might not rally. He thinks Danny could be safe, so perhaps he'll be the one voted off.

Decisions decisions.

The Milner Coupe said...

Since we know who deserves to win, who has to go? If you base it strickly upon that night's performance, Gorky should get the hook. Forgetting the duet that highlighted the fact that neither could reach the 'Styx' register, His attempt to sing what could have been Adam's second song was horrible. Wouldn't something by Bad Company been a better choice for him?

I agree that Alyson could have chose several different Joplin songs. I thought a bolder choice would have been Please, Please, Please by James Brown. With the house band it would have qualified as rock. But she did better than Gorky by a mile.

Kris gave it a go and I actually didn't mind it. I liked the vamp on the last verse. It wasn't his wheel house but the kid loves the Beatles. Added points!

I hope when it's all said and done that Adam keeps his good music sense about him. He is the only contestant they have ever had that actually performs. He's trying to win, where most just try not to lose. He's got a great Elvis vibe to him without being mimic-y or retro. Where the show used to be a drag about now, I find myself actually looking forward to seeing what he's going to do. American Idol might have actually found their first idol. But money and outside influences have killed more than one new career. It be nice to see someone unique for a change.

Tom Quigley said...

Missed last night's show because I was out enjoying some legitimate entertainment. Chad & Jeremy (yes, the same duo from the British pop invasion, and guest stars on DICK VAN DYKE, PATTY DUKE and BATMAN -- check YouTube) played here in Rochester last night, and they were outstanding.

wv: zoakin -- part of the title of a new film by Judd Apatow? (as in "Don't Mess With The...")

growingupartists said...

Misty of Chincoteague, that's the most romantic thing I've ever heard you say on here, Ken Levine you.

Totally reminds me of this post from Earl:

You guys are the best-thinking team in Internetland and beyond!

jbryant said...

Simon, who sometimes seems to have no knowledge of popular music prior to the '90s, called "Whole Lotta Love" one of the best rock songs of all time. A snap judgment no doubt, since he'd probably never heard the song before Adam's rendition (which he found to be "original," even though by Adam's standards it was a pretty straightforward cover).

Gokey has a great voice, but he's sort of this year's Melinda Doolittle -- impeccable pipes but no clear artistic sensibility (I hear good things about her new album though). He was clearly raised on bland pop, light R&B and, undoubtedly, Christian music when he should've been absorbing Ray Charles and the like.

Anonymous said...

Funny and on-point, Ken. (Oh, that Adam Lambert... Phew. The reason to still watch AI.)

Ray in AZ said...

Am I the only one who thinks that Adam sounds like a histrionic jacka$$ in a bad 80's metal cover band? I mean the guys in Steel Panther or Metal School should be rushing to sign this shrieking mayna bird up as their new frontman.... He sounds too much like Mark Wahlberg in "Rockstar" to me!

A. Buck Short said...

RE: Ride Misty for MeSuh, ah don’t know if y’all have evah personally had the honah of witnessin' the actual pony swim between the islands. Hi-ever, wed these many years to a daughtah of Vahginyah, ah can assuah everyone that if Miss Kara Dioguardi wishes to become Kara of Chincoteague, she will fuhst have to make an Assateague of huhself. We believe the young lady is progressin’ jist fine.

[One more cottin' pickin' clarification:
FYI, the Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island pony event is only referred to as the Swim Between the Islands in the South. Northerners know it better as the “Civil Swim". Take note Ken Burns.]

Rock Golf said...

As was also mentioned at the start of the show, the AI stage manager, Debbie Williams, was injured during the dress rehearsal. She & Ryan were walking down those retracting steps, when someone retracted them early. She fell 20 feet and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Major leg gash but otherwise, she'll be ok.

As I posted at EW, here's what I suspected the judges reactions would be:

Randy Jackson

Debbie Williams! What's up, dawg? [loudly inhaling through closed teeth] I don't know. I don't know. For me, for you, this was not your best staircase. I know you didn't want to stick to the middle, but you went OFF the edge, man. You crashed. I know you were really feelin' it, but I wasn't. I see you doin' escalators, elevators. Maybe even ladders. But for me, for you, stairs is not your thang. I don???t know if I see you back here next week. Kara?

Kara Wow! You really made an impact. You know people say you seem more like a Broadway artist, and after this I can definitely see you in a cast. Probably in some Andrew Lloyd-Webber & Condoleeza Rice musical like Miss Saigon or Jersey Boys. Paula, over to you.

Paula First off, Debbie, I love the outfit. Bright red really works for you. Simon, what? You were definitely out of your comfort zone and for that I applaud you. Like a seal. You showed us what's really inside you. And if you need some Vicodin, some morphine, just know that I am here. For you.

Simon Debbie, I thought it was a brilliant choice for Rock night, Stairway To Heaven. [booing] Oh, come on, you know I'm right. But the execution was all wrong. Frankly, I don't think you're safe.

shpankboy said...

Am I the only one who has picked up on this but is Adam modeling himself after the character "Caesare" in the Idolmaker?
The walk down the stairs under the white light in the earlier episodes, the Elvis like look, the humble underline to the wild personality, I can't help thinking that Vinnie Vaccari is pulling his strings.